The newest episode of Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet Show hosted the Nevada-based Executive Director of the International Gaming Institute Dr Bo Bernhard, who looked at Las Vegas and how the gaming and betting industry is developing there.

“Now it is generating revenue and innovation from virtually every corner of these massive buildings, which today constitutes the most expensive buildings in the world,” Dr Bernhard remarked when being asked about the developments he’s witnessed on the Las Vegas strip.

“So, you know, this is fascinating to me as an academic, because for many years, the most expensive building in the world was a little something called the Pyramids. And then, for many, many years, in fact, most of human history, it’s been cathedrals, of a variety of stripes and all over the world, temples and basically dedicated to religion. Now, as we enter 2022, the most expensive buildings that humans have created on Earth are the buildings on Las Vegas Boulevard.”

A massive sports fan, Dr Bernhard has also been a highly influential figure of bringing the NFL to Las Vegas to form the Las Vegas Raiders – a team which currently sits at number two in the AFC West division. 

Talking on the obstacles arising from the endeavour of persuading the NFL to set foot on the strip, Dr Bernhard said: “The NFL’s arrival in Las Vegas was a very complex series of questions. The NFL had questions on everything – from crime to community at all points in between problem gambling being just one relatively small one.”

The guest of the Safe Bet Show, who’s also the VP of Economic Development at the UNLV, then added how he successfully managed to handle the situation: “There was a whole list of questions, and here is the thing that I say when our team tackles this, things like this, I say I don’t know the answer, but I know the methodology to your point. And that methodology is to get a whole bunch of really smart, diversely educated people around one table and to go after it together.

“And so methodologically speaking, I think, you know, if I were a classic scientist at this point, I would say things like clearly there are quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches that are important. But more important than those are, of course, the scientists, the thinkers that you bring to the table.

“So, I don’t think I’m the one that has the answers very often, but I think I’ve been pretty decent at putting together teams, which once more stems from, as it does with you as well, a childhood playing on teams, right? It just felt natural.

“And that’s certainly what we built at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute is a team of over 50 differently educated, diverse, backgrounded individuals who bring tremendous, I would call it cognitive diversity, filling in the gaps of knowledge of the others on the team in a way that leads to a comprehensive whole.”

Adding on to the developments in the region’s betting on sports sector, and how such a growth should affect the industry’s course of action, Dr Bernhard told the Safe Bet Show that a ‘Spider-man line’ is needed to glue together all aspects of gambling opportunities, including problem gambling, as to inspect them more thoroughly and invoke an adequate response to the newly formed responsibilities.

“With expansion of gambling opportunities comes different and new responsibilities to invoke a Spider-Man line because we’re in a situation now where, of course, we have unprecedented access to betting on sports” he added. “And when those things happen, it’s time to pay attention to the problem gambling issue.

“Keith Whyte, my friend at the National Council, is fond of saying that at each point when we see these new legislations, we need to see new funding streams from the government, from the private sector, hopefully collaborative in support of problem gambling, research, treatment and all forms of assistance for those who develop a gambling problem.

“And so I think that best practice is very much out there and some folks are embracing it and feel, of course, very comfortable with it, and others are sort of proceeding as if that’s not even an issue or not even something to think about when once more one of the lessons in my decades of looking at this industry, that was not an issue that people paid attention to decades ago. But now you cannot thrive without paying attention to it as part of a comprehensive.

“I always say to be good at leading in this industry, you need to be good at both the walls inward and the walls outward. And in brick-and-mortar casinos, it’s easier to define the walls inward skills that you need to run a really good shop, a really good store.

“But in this industry, uniquely, maybe you also need to be good at the walls outward work. You need to be good at talking to the community about who you are, what you’re doing and why. What you’re doing is helpful, not harmful,” Bernhard concluded.

The Safe Bet Show: Gaming expansion “cannot thrive” without paying attention to problem gambling